On Sunday afternoon, June 2, 2013, United Methodists from across North Alabama gathered on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College for the 2013 North Alabama Annual Conference.
The afternoon session opened with the singing of “And Are We Yet Alive” led by this year’s Conference worship leader John Elliott.
Chair of the Episcopacy Committee Dr. Andy Wolfe introduced Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett who is serving her first year as the presiding Bishop of the North Alabama Conference. During his introduction Rev. Wolfe made a motion to accept Bishop Wallace-Padgett and her husband Lee Padgett, an ordained Deacon, as honorary members of the North Alabama Conference. The motion passed.
The Bishop then officially called the Conference to order and invited Gen. Charles Krulak, president of Birmingham-Southern College, to welcome members to the college. In his greeting he reminded those gathered that BSC is “your campus.” He also shared that as a Methodist-related college BSC strives to provide an education to touch students' souls. He shared a video of a march the campus held in April to honor the 50th anniversary of BSC student Marti Turnipseed joining seven African-American students at a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s food counter in downtown Birmingham. Following the video, BSC Chaplain Rev. Jack Hinnen led the Conference in an opening prayer. Gen. Krulak then extended the invitation for the 2014 North Alabama Annual Conference to meet on the campus of BSC.
Conference Secretary Rev. Sherill Clontz then led Conference members through the organization of the Conference by setting the bar (voting area) and determining which reports are on the Consent Agenda and which will be voted on separately.
Clergy and laity then went to the Clergy executive session and lay orientation session, the only time the lay and clergy attending Conference meet separately.
During the afternoon, Conference members and visitors had an opportunity to visit the mission displays to learn more about United Methodist-related ministries throughout North Alabama.
Following a dinner break, Conference participants gathered once more in Bill Battle Coliseum for an opening worship celebration. The service celebrated the rich diversity of United Methodism in North Alabama and featured a hand bell acclamation, spirited organ music, a mass choir, a prayer of thanksgiving in the Korean tradition, commissioning North Alabama’s campus ministries leaders and the sharing of Holy Communion.
During worship, Bishop Wallace-Padgett preached the sermon “Becoming New in Christ.” She noted that “New life in Christ starts with Cultivation.” She affirmed the spirit and discipleship she has seen in North Alabama United Methodists saying, “Jesus is not just someone you talk about or read about. Jesus is your friend…your savior…your strength in your life.” She encouraged each individual to continue to become new in Christ through intentional Holy Habits.
Following worship, Mission2Gather, a group of North Alabama United Methodist ministries, held a 5k run / 1 mile fun walk. Runners and walkers enjoyed the fellowship and helped raise money for these eight ministries working together to engage persons in mission and ministry to those in need. Winners of the race will be announced during a business session of the Conference.